Friday, July 2, 2010

What would you do?

Before I get started, let me explain about where I live.  My subdivision is a little off the beaten path.  We are not directly located near a strip mall or other public or private business.  We are not off of a major road.  We are surrounded on each side by other subdivisions and across the street on one corner is a farm (we can even hear the cows mooing if they get to the side of the farm that is closest to us).  I have no doubt that at one time, our subdivision land was a farm.  My subdivision is quite diverse - many, many Indian and Asian families, several African American families, and the majority is white familes, though the number of Indian/Asian families is quite high.  Most families have kids - ranging in all ages throughout the subdivision, though there are many who are becoming empty nesters.

So now that I have set the stage, I will continue with my story.

I came into our subdivsion about 8:00pm and noticed what I thought was a kid sitting on the curb with a phone in his hand and an ear piece for music or bluetooth.  I assumed he was waiting for his friends to come outside.  As I got closer, I thought he seemed a little older than the kids who live in the house near where he was sitting and now think he is probably a twenty something male and immediately wonder what he is doing.  I will also point out he was African-American.  I turn onto my street and head into the house. 

A few minutes later, I come out to work in the flower bed and Sous Chef is out riding his bike.  We live in a culdesac.  After being outside for about a 1/2 hour, I now notice this young adult is sitting on the corner of our culdesac.  I went about my business and eventually went inside.  A few minutes later, I notice he is still sitting there.

I called my neighbor to see if she knew who he was because I didn't.  She didn't but said she saw him in the same location I first saw him when she was out walking at 5:00.  It was now about 8:45 and he is still lingering around our section of the neighborhood and I can see him from my house. 

My neighbor and I discussed a variety of "possibilities" of why this young man could be in our neighborhood including:
  1. He had a cell phone, but maybe he called someone for a ride because he is stranded in our neighborhood for whatever reason and they said they would pick him up but they never showed up OR he had no one who could pick him up.
  2. He was totally lost and didn't know what to do.
  3. He was taking a lot of time to take a rest.
  4. He was up to no good.
Of course, the topic of calling the police came up. She wanted to, but her college aged son accused her of racial profiling, something neither of us wanted to be guilty of. However, I decided I was more concerned with the safety factor and not about his color and called the cops, after confirming with my husband that was the right thing.  I had to take a few minutes to make sure I was not doing this just because he was a young black male.  I hoped I was calling the cops because there was a stranger in our midst for several hours, not because there was a black stranger in our midst for several hours.  I'm 99% sure I would have noticed ANYONE who was lurking around my street for several hours and I feel comfortable with my decision.  I'm observant that way and I would recognize, if not personally know, the majority of neighbors in my vicinity if it was one of them hanging out on the street corner for a few hours.

The cops came, chatted with him and apparently offered him a ride somewhere because he got in the front seat of the cop car and they left.  I still have no idea who he is or why he was here.  I hope it was #1 and he just needed some help.

So how would you have handled this?


  1. That is a tough one. I think you have to go with your gut instinct. Just because his ethnicity was something other than Caucasian doesn't mean you can't call the cops if the situation makes you feel uncomfortable.

  2. Exactly what you had done. We have called the cops when people come door to door here selling something that seems odd, no matter what color their skin. We live in a suburb just like you described.

  3. I would have (and have done in the past) done exactly the same as you whatever race he was or whether he was a woman. If someone is causing you concern, you have every right to make enquiries about them. However, I'm noesy so I'd be dying to know why he was there in the first place lol

  4. You did the right thing.
    I think most teens and young adults are fine people but anyone hanging around for that long deserves a little suspicion, regardless of race, age, gender, etc. Good for you.

  5. This EXACT thing happened to me last week at a friend's house outside of the city except the guy was WHITE. It was equally as alarming. I considered calling the police but instead I gave a heads up to all the moms and dads. I figured there were enough men there to protect us all and enough women to herd the children if need be.

    Lurkers are scary no matter what their skin color, and we can't put anyone at risk just to be nice or give anyone the benefit of the doubt or to not seem racist. Being cautious has nothing to do with racism. That doesn't mean call the police on everyone, but it does mean stay on your toes and make sure everyone else is too.

  6. And I think you did the right thing by calling the cops, btw.